Former Suu Kyi supporter Bono calls for her to step down

NEW YORK • Walk away, says U2 frontman Bono. The leading campaigner for Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi, when she was under house arrest, has called on her to resign over the Rohingya crisis.

The singer - who championed her in the 2000 U2 song Walk On, with fans encouraged to wear masks of the then opposition leader when the band played it live - said he felt "nauseated" by images of the bloodshed and refugee turmoil.

"I have genuinely felt ill because I can't quite believe what the evidence all points to. But there is ethnic cleansing," he told Rolling Stone magazine in its latest issue.

"It really is happening and she has to step down because she knows it's happening," Bono said.

"She should, at the very least, be speaking out more. And if people don't listen, then resign."

The United Nations and the United States have described Myanmar's campaign against the stateless, mostly Muslim Rohingya people as ethnic cleansing.

An estimated 655,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.

Ms Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, enjoyed wide support from celebrities as she spent most of two decades under house arrest on orders of the military junta.

The nation's transition to democracy and her elevation last year to de facto leader initially delighted human rights groups, but they have since been outraged by her reticence over the Rohingya issue.

Bono said: "Maybe it's that she doesn't want to lose the country back to the military. But she already has, if the pictures are what we go by, anyway."

Earlier this month, Dublin, his hometown, revoked a city award given to her to protest against her handling of the violence.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2017, with the headline 'Former Suu Kyi supporter Bono calls for her to step down'. Print Edition | Subscribe